“My thoughts are not your thoughts…My ways are not your ways.”
I have used this verse many times to explain circumstances that haven’t made sense—I’ll bet you have heard others do the same. When things don’t work out as we believe they should, we often think, “Well…God’s ways are not ours!” While this application is true—this is not what Isaiah is trying to tell us (in this specific passage) about God—it has much more significance than that!
I recently did a study of Is. 55 and found that this verse has a much more profound meaning than simply reminding us that God is smarter and wiser than us. While He is these things—Isaiah is saying…”God is not like us. When it comes to being offended by others—He showers us with mercy and compassion—rather than retribution and punishment—when we repent!” The verse quoted above is written just after these words: “Seek the Lord while He may be found. Call upon Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake His way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; and let him return to the Lord, and He will have compassion on him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon,” (vs. 6&7). The context is pointing us to a specific insight about God…and one that we all need to be reminded of. Here is my paraphrase of these verses:
When you offend me by your sins (even when you should have known better)—and
you repent —I will shower you with mercy and compassion…and I will abundantly
pardon you. I am not like you in this. My thoughts are not like your thoughts…my
ways are not like your ways! I am not like you! So don’t think that I am! I offer
complete forgiveness—with no strings attached and no conditions! My mercy is
limitless to forgive…I am not like you!
In my study of God’s mercy and compassion, I am convinced that we don’t see God like this (the One who completely and abundantly pardons!). We see God like us! We see Him place conditions on us when we return to Him…or we think He will punish us if we return…or He will offer us a cold shoulder and acknowledge that we will never measure up to His standard! When we are offended—we demand justice! But when God is offended He offers mercy to the repentant! *(…and God can do this because His wrath was satisfied with Christ’s death—See Is. 53).
If we think God is like us (when wronged)…then we would never seek Him…we would not want to return to a God who is about to give us another lecture. But (praise God!) His thoughts are not our thoughts and His ways are not our ways! Let us be reminded that when we sin…and when we continue to struggle with sin (even when we know better) that when we repent—God’s mercy is abundant!! To Him be the Glory!!